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Old 03-16-2008, 10:08 PM   #1
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Newbie needs help cooking potatoes in stainless steel

I tried searching, but to no avail (I'm apparently not good at this search engine).

Anyhow, here's my problem. I've recently moved to all stainless steel cookware (Calphalon tri-ply), and so far LOVE it! I have no problems with much sticking, eggs are perfect etc. However, one food is killing me! Trying to fry hash browns, or diced potatoes for frying are frustrating me!

I tried starting by the rules. Hot pan, add oil, oil gets hot, then add my room temperature ingredients, potatoes. They start to fry, but immediately start to stick when I move 'em around. Before long, I'm cooking on a complete layer of potatoes, and they continue to stick as I move 'em. After turning the heat up way past what I need for most all items, it still just sticks, and continues to build a layer on the bottom and sides of the pan. I'm left with potatoes that are basically hot, and soaked in oil. Not very tasty to say the least.

So the question is, what is it I'm missing? Or is this what I need a good cast iron skillet for? I really thought I could cook 100% of what I wanted in stainless, so I'd like to learn if there is a trick to be learned.

Thanks in advance, and thanks for all of the posts this great community makes! I've been lurking for a while, but needed to jump in for this one. All of my other success's with stainless are due in part to all of you! So help me learn how to get nice brown crisp potatoes in my stainless pans please!!!

Robert

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Old 03-16-2008, 10:25 PM   #2
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Robert, welcome to DC.

You got off to a good start with good equipment and proper technique with heating and adding the oil as you describe.

The next step should have been to add the potato, adjust the heat to medium to medium low and leave the pan alone. When you add food to the hot pan, it sticks. Can't be helped. What you have to do is let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes. The potatoes will brown on the bottom and unstick from the pan on their own. You can't really rush it.

This rule is true for most foods you want to sauté. Meat, poultry and fish works the same way. Place the food in the hot pan and leave it alone for several minutes. When you go back, it will be OK. You have to resist the temptation to try to move it around.
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:10 PM   #3
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Thanks Andy!

I'll give that a try. I'll resist my temptation and let it rest for about 2 min or so before trying to stir it to get the next side brown. I assume I need to do that each time an uncooked portion hits the bottom of the pan? For hash browns that would be easy, flip once after it browns and let it brown again. But for fried potatoes with sometimes more than 4 sides, I'd guess once its about all browned, I'm safe to stir around until it's evenly cooked?

Thank you!

Robert
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:28 AM   #4
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You have the right idea. Don't time it, test it. use a spatula aftere two minutes to heck oif the potatoes are loosening up. If not wait longer. You just have to adust the heat to prevent burning.
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:38 AM   #5
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I think I understand! I'll probably end up on no higher than medium (I cook on gas) as I've found its plenty hot with this cookware for just about everything other than boiling water.

I'll have to give it another try soon!

Also, since we are on the subject... I generally use a good virgin olive oil for most things, however, since these darn potatoes seem to like it "hot", would you recommend I go with vegetable, or corn oil to get it hotter without hitting the smoking point? (I didn't let the olive oil actually hit the smoke point before adding the potatoes). I guess I'm just asking for browning potatoes, is there an oil more properly suited for the task?

Thanks again!

Robert
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:54 AM   #6
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I would use canola oil - it has a high smoke point and doesn't add its own flavor to the dish. HTH.
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
I would use canola oil - it has a high smoke point and doesn't add its own flavor to the dish. HTH.
Canola is a good choice. I add some butter for flavor.
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:39 AM   #8
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Cool, canola it is! How do you get a butter flavor in there? Just add some real butter? Or would that simply burn off before the canola gets to its smoking point?
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:44 AM   #9
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Mixed with the canola oil, the butter will add flavor but not burn unless you turn up the heat very high.

Using extra virgin olive oil is fine, too, if you like the taste. That's what I use much of the time. I use Smart Balance or oil/butter for breakfast potatoes becasue it is one dish I don't want an olive oil taste in.

I usually add my potatoes, stir them up in the pan to coat, season, and then let the cook.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:04 AM   #10
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I used to always cook my home fries in margerine with a non-stick pan. I would add oil towards the end and they were crispy and had a nice flavor.....
The I came here. Got myself some SS pans (for the most part) and never bought margarine again. I started cooking my home fries in EVOO and butter and the heat definitely had to be set lower. SS must get much hotter than TFal. They were cooking and releasing, but the pan still had a little food gunk on it even though I had what I felt was too much oil for the amount of food I was cooking. After all, I'm not going to make gravy from my home fries drippings (lol).
And while I can cook them this way, sometimes nuking them for a few minutes first if I don't want to babysit them for 45 minutes, it is much more convenient for me to grab something non-stick. Cleanup is so much easier. Low heat with a lid on and then higher heat without a lid to crisp them up. I know it's probably just me, but I am not sold on SS for everything I cook.
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